Pooh’s Think

… with comments

A Note About the New Fundamentalist Harvards

I just received the following thoughtful note:


I enjoyed your latest post on Patrick Henry college. I had never heard of them before, but wanted to ask you about the “faith-based Harvard” comment. Is this your statement or are you quoting?

A typical defining characteristic of Fundamentalism is the preaching against the dangers of modernity while simultaneously embracing modern ideas and ethics which suite Fundamentalist agenda.

If the Harvard statement comes from Patrick Henry College, it demonstrates their desire to have the gravitas of Harvard while simultaneously attacking the institution for its secularism. It also shows a complete ignorance of Harvard’s history as PH college selects only those factoids they find useful while rejecting the rest.

Fundamentalist groups will be quick to remind their audience that Harvard was once a god fearing institution. They will, however, not mention the less appealing facts of Harvard’s theocratic government like sanctioned student abuse. Freshman were assigned an upperclassman “advisor” upon whose good pleasure hung the Freshman’s fate. Beatings and psychological abuse were not uncommon forms of control. So integral was this system to Harvard society that the President would sometimes relieve upperclassmen of their Freshman slaves as a form of punishment. There is at least one documented instance of the President of Harvard exacting this punishment because freshman abuse had gone so far as to become a black eye to the university. Neither would, I’m sure, PH college take any interest in the fact that Harvard was isolationist in it policies. Harvard refused to allow construction of the bridge connecting Cambridge to Boston for fear of contamination from that wicked city. It was not, i believe, (could be wrong here) till after the Methodist revolution and takeover of Harvard from the Puritan predecessors that the bridge was built.

I’m sure this would only draw a big yawn of PH supporters. As their marketing sound byte is much more interesting to them than actual history. “What! you haven’t heard of Patrick Henry College?! We’re the next Harvard”. It gives the Freshman something to say and makes the parents feel better after paying the tuition.

Here’s the relevant quote from the article on Patrick Henry:

It also boasts of its classical liberal-arts curriculum. The vision was that Patrick Henry would become as rigorous and prestigious as an Ivy League institution, but with a firm religious grounding — a faith-based Harvard.

New St. Andrews College looks identical to Patrick Henry with respect to concerns expressed in this note. In a presidential address to New St. Andrews, Roy Atwood cited an article referring to the lax standards at Harvard and explained that he was expecting New St. Andrews to surpass Harvard’s academic standards. The marketing idea of a new Harvard has been clear. Perhaps smaller goals could be achieved first however, such as getting a few students to demonstrate rational cogency regarding the public criticism of New St. Andrews and its founders Douglas Wilson and Doug Jones. I certainly haven’t seen academic or rational standards encouraged regarding any of that. And New St. Andrews has always used this doubled standard technique: rail against the establishment in a haughty fashion, but boast about any acknowledgement or honor from this very establishment.


November 20, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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